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Sexual Harassment and Discrimination at Workplace

Sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace are problems that have persisted for a long time, despite growing awareness and efforts to stop them. In the modern workplace, sexual harassment of all kinds still occurs, and it can have a negative impact on the well-being and career success of not only women but also men and third-gender individuals.

Even males can fall prey to harassment at workplace it can be in different forms we often neglect males from the purview that they can also be a victim of sexual harassment certain situation like asking for sexual favors from the wife of his employee, intimidating the male employee sexual favors through his wife to the one in higher authority.

People from LGBTQAI+ community also fall victim of sexual, physical, mental harassment at workplace. Bullying, mocking them is usually a very common practice and norm in the society which we can easily witness in our everyday life.

In this blog, we are going to examine the prevalence of sexual harassment of females in the workplace today and the significance of addressing this problem to establish safe and welcoming work environments.

When employees are treated unfairly at work because of their color, gender, age, religion, or disability, this is known as workplace discrimination.

It can appear in many different ways, such as unfair compensation, being passed over for advancements, or receiving offensive remarks or jokes. Employees who experience workplace discrimination may experience serious consequences, such as reduced job satisfaction, low morale, and issues with their mental health.

What is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment is described as any unwanted sexual behavior or conduct that makes a person feel threatened, frightened, or insulted. Unwanted sexual advances, remarks, jokes, gestures, and physical touch are only a few examples of sexual harassment's numerous manifestations. It can take place between coworkers, managers, or even clients or customers.

In terms of behavior, "sexual harassment" includes such things as unwanted sexually motivated behavior (either explicitly or by implication) as:
Physical contact and advances, a demand or request for sexual favors, sexually charged comments, showing pornography and any other unwanted physical, verbal, or non-verbal act portraying sexual characteristics.

Sexual harassment can have a substantial negative effect on victims, who may experience mental discomfort, anxiety, despair, and a drop in performance at work. It can also result in a hostile workplace and reputational harm to a business.

The power relationships involving the innocent victim and the harasser provide one of the obstacles in resolving sexual harassment in modern workplaces. Because the harasser frequently has a more powerful position or greater clout at work, it can be challenging for the person being harassed to open up or disclose the act of harassment in afraid of reprisal or other unfavorable outcomes. This disparity in authority can encourage a climate of silence and make harassment more likely to occur.

The normalization and commodification of sexual harassment is another problem. Some could brush it off as innocent flirtation or jokes, or blame it on the "boys will be boys" mentality. However, it is crucial to understand that sexual abuse is unacceptable under any circumstances and is a breach of a person's rights and dignity.

Evolution of law regarding it:

The problem of gender bias is widespread throughout the country and on an international scale. "Sexual harassment" is one such instance of gender discrimination, and it frequently occurs at work. Such sexual harassment of anyone goes against the spirit of Indian Constitutional Articles 14, 15, and 21. The Constitution also calls for the abolition of this gender bias under Articles 14 and 15, and Article 21 highlights the importance of the most crucial fundamental rights, namely "the right to life and the right to personal liberty."

The Supreme Court finally defined "sexual harassment" in 1997 and ruled that a woman had a basic right to work in an ambience void of this type of behavior. It also established rules mandating that "sexual harassment" in the workplace be thoroughly investigated by the institution's leader, whether they run a public or private organization. Based on this ground-breaking decision, the MWCD approved the "SHW at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013" 16 years later.

In the case of "Vishakha v. State of Rajasthan", the Supreme Court recognized "sexual harassment" at work in India. The Supreme Court made references to several Constitutional clauses that envisioned judicial intervention as being necessary to eradicate this social crime. It made reference to "Art. 15 which prohibits inequality on grounds of religion, ethnicity, caste, gender or place of birth." "Art. 51, which provides for the promotion of global security and peace. "Art. 42, which guarantees for reasonable and humane working conditions and maternity leave. Every person has a fundamental obligation to uphold the Constitution and foster unity under Art. 51A.

India, a CEDAW guarantor, made sure to incorporate Article 11 of CEDAW into its laws. The PoSH Act, which was created based on these principles and approved in 2013, was a significant legislative reform, even for labor laws. The current study aims to ascertain the origins of "sexual harassment" (at the office), the status of women in Indian society, a thorough examination of the Vishakha Guidelines, and a critique of the recently passed Act. Finally, the study supports the need to keep an eye on the current situation and advance the current legislation towards stronger enforcement.

Policies and Preventive Measures to be taken:

The fight against sexual harassment in today's workplace must involve organizations. Employers should put in place explicit procedures and guidelines for reporting and dealing with sexual harassment, give all workers training and education, and have a zero-tolerance policy towards such behavior. In order for victims to feel encouraged to speak up without being afraid of consequences, it is essential to establish a secure and supportive environment.

In their quest for justice, survivors of sexual misconduct should also receive assistance. In addition to giving them access to private resources and support services, they should be urged to report instances of harassment. In order to look into and address complaints of sexual harassment, employers should respond quickly and appropriately. This includes disciplining the harasser.

In addition, bystander action is essential in the fight against sexual harassment. Coworkers who observe harassment events should speak up and support the victim rather than keeping quiet. This can aid in ending the cycle of harassment and promoting an environment in the workplace where respect and accountability are valued.

To address the underlying causes of sexual harassment, societal reforms are required in addition to organizational measures. This entails combating gender stereotypes and norms that support detrimental attitudes towards women, advancing gender equality at work, and making offenders accountable for their deeds through judicial and social processes. Employers must take action to stop and handle these problems while fostering a secure and welcoming workplace that supports inclusivity and diversity.

The organization should foster a safe and effective work ambience for their workers by fostering an attitude of respect and zero-tolerance for sexual harassment and discrimination.

In conclusion, it is critical to handle sexual harassment head-on because it is still a serious problem in today's workplace. Workers must be motivated and empowered to speak up and report instances without fear of retaliation, and organizations must take action to prevent and address sexual harassment. We can work towards a workplace culture where every individual is treated in a dignified and respectful manner and has the chance to succeed by establishing safe, welcoming workplaces where harassing is not tolerated. We can work together to eliminate sexual harassment from the workplace in the future.

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